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Did you know only about 18 percent of adults with disabilities are employed? Although this is harsh and unsettling, statistics like these make it apparent that there is still a stigma that surrounds hiring someone who isn’t neurotypical. Sadly, people with disabilities and those on the autism spectrum have a hard time obtaining competitive employment opportunities and an even harder time finding a career to match their interests and goals. Oftentimes, the jobs offered to this population do not include high-demand or high-growth career opportunities. Instead, it is janitorial or just something to punch the clock i.e., busy work.

Autism and learning disabilities are generally associated with atypical language and communication, social interaction, motor coordination and sensory processing issues. Yes, these are some of the struggles those with special needs can experience, but doesn’t everyone face difficulties in their lives? People with special needs are just impacted uniquely and are affected by personal and environmental challenges. These barriers can cause them to have issues completing something without the proper guidance or support. However, what is often forgotten is that their abilities can offer a great deal of success in the workplace. For example, those on the spectrum can memorize information quickly, think and learn visually, express exceptional honesty, loyalty and reliability. In addition, they have a very strong adherence to rules and routines.

Just like employees, employers just need to be better equipped with training solutions. Doing so can simply accommodate a neurodiverse community within the workplace. There has been a small shift in workforce development due to training programs and the fact that massive businesses such as Google are hiring individuals with special needs. More employers are realizing this population’s diverse talents that in turn make them extremely valuable candidates. JDS Creative Academy, a nonprofit located in Temecula, CA is a neurodiverse workplace and truly values differences. The organization works hard to be a safe place for those with special needs to learn, grow and build the skills required to have a career in video production. Instead of focusing on disabilities, JDSCA highlights abilities and passions.

JDS Creative Academy’s job-training program is reaching for new heights. Beyond providing participants the skills necessary to obtain a career in video production, JDSCA is stepping into paid internships in hopes to also provide a workable career pathway. The idea behind this is simple: place job-training participants in internships in the community that align with JDSCA’s program curriculum, whether that be social media and video production work, or marketing and corporate storytelling. While participating in the internship, each participant will have a 1-1 supportive coach to be with them to help make the transition from the training environment to the work environment. Currently, the organization is in their early stages of identifying the community business partners and is excited about the opportunities ahead.

You might be surprised to hear that it doesn’t take much to ensure your workplace is dedicated to accessibility for all. There are some amazing resources such as the National Disability Institute which provides assistance to the public workforce to achieve equal opportunities for all.

The first step can be as simple as considering a partnership with an organization like JDS Creative Academy.

You can think of this opportunity as a reciprocal relationship. Our special needs job-training participants get to work as valued employees and you gain an amazing candidate to help bring your business to the next level, with no payroll cost to your bottom line. “Kindness begins with the understanding that we all struggle,” – Charles Glassman.